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January 19, 2022, 10:20:11 am

Author Topic: Short Story Tips  (Read 171 times)

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Short Story Tips
« on: January 12, 2022, 01:03:12 pm »

I'd like to improve my creative writing skills so that I can write better short stories,
and I was hoping for some tips.

« Last Edit: January 12, 2022, 03:47:03 pm by Roshkan123 »


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Re: Short Story Tips
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2022, 06:51:31 pm »

    Creative writing is definitely a skill like any other, especially one which requires someone to practice in order to improve! So it's great that you are looking for tips. If you had any creative writing excerpts you had written and wanted to share, we do have a
creative writing thread here on ATARNotes! Otherwise, I'd be willing to have a look over anything you write and give feedback to the best of my ability, in order to give you some targeted tips for your writing as it stands on it own. It also depends on the kind of short stories you want to write. For example, world building and character creation are different skills from more descriptive character studies or dialogue-heavy pieces. Or if it's for English or literature class where you must write a creative piece that exists in the scope of an existing source material, this requires different skills as well, including knowing enough about the characters and setting of the original work and feeling comfortable enough to adopt their perspective.

But here are some general tips that I find helpful when writing creatively!

Of course, the old English teacher's adage of 'show don't tell' is still relevant when you are writing stories into your adulthood. Some extensive description is needed at certain points of a story, but it quickly gets hard to follow when there's little dialogue or action preceding this description. We get to learn things about characters not only by the author telling us about them through description, but also through how they show how the character interacts with others, talks, and acts. For example, the difference between:

excerpt 1
But it’s too late for pleading because Victor has gently retrieved the album from Ellie's hands, and is already beginning to open the cover, thick leather prying away from the glossy pages. Grace rushes to snatch it off him before they realise what it is and it incriminates her even further, but Victor shifts away from her.

Ellie lets out a soft noise of surprise when she notices what’s on the pages, and she and Victor both turn to look at Grace with infuriatingly knowing expressions.

“So, are you going to explain exactly what this is?” Victor eventually asks.

Grace stares at the floor, heat pooling in her cheeks.

Ellie shakes her head as she leans over Victor, flipping through the pages, a slight look of disbelief on her face. “Have you… looked through this before? It’s so…” she trails off.


excerpt 2
Grace was incredibly scared about what her friends might find in the photo album. She was a nervous girl, never wanting anyone to figure out she wasn't as cool as she made herself out to be. She tried to lunge for the album, but her friends held it away from her hands. They were too interested in what they might find - Grace wasn't usually one to withhold information about herself to anyone.

Her friends opened the photo album, and immediately understood exactly why Grace was so nervous for them to see it. But what they saw wasn't easily explainable.

"So, are you going to explain exactly what this is?" Victor asked her, and Grace was incredibly embarrassed.

Obviously, my examples aren't perfect by any means, and there is a weird tense change, but there is certainly a difference between the two. In the first excerpt, I have attempted to show, rather than tell, what is happening in this exchange. There is no real attempt to describe the motivations behind the characters or tell the reader about the characters' traits, which can sometimes become tedious and slow the pace of a story. Instead, I have tried to create the reader's impression of a character through dialogue and action. Grace doesn't want her friends to see what's inside the photo album, so she 'snatches' before it's too late. Ellie is more of a quiet character, so her words 'trail off', and she makes a 'soft noise of surprise'. I'm not the best writer, but I hope these examples can sort of differentiate the difference between showing and telling. You'd really be surprised at how far this can really carry your writing.

To sort of follow on from the last point, finding descriptive words and sentences to accentuate your characters' actions also helps to paint a better picture in your readers' heads. I have the tendency to do this a lot (maybe to my detriment), so maybe that's why I'm adding this point in here lol. For example, adverbs or adjectives describing the way a character says or does something really accentuates it. For example:

excerpt 3
“Celie, you idiot,” Grace had laughed, a genuine feeling of delight bubbling up in her chest. “You were supposed to turn the camera around the other way! Are you sixty years old?”

Celie blushed, immediately defensive. “Shut up, Grace! It was an accident! Of course I know how to use a camera!” she barked, smacking Grace on the back of the head.

Peppering in description such as elaborating the way a character is feeling, describing the way a character is saying something, and using words other than 'said' (which is certainly an English teacher's pet peeve) to elaborate on how your characters act and talk by using adjectives, adverbs and other descriptors also helps to enhance your writing.

Seriously, just write what makes you happy. If you write what you yourself would want to read, it makes it much easier to produce something you want to describe in a million words, and something you want to enjoy when you read it back yourself.

So, yeah! These are just a couple of tips I thought appropriate to include. Of course, like I said in the start, it helps if you had a specific genre of writing you wanted to write, there are additional tips to consider. But for now, these are just some general ones. And I promise I didn't just reply to this to show off my writing (lol)

If you have any additional questions please feel free to post them!

« Last Edit: January 13, 2022, 10:45:30 am by vehura »
class of 2021
2020: psych (50)
2021: eng (50) lit (47)


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Re: Short Story Tips
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2022, 07:43:28 pm »
Hi Vehura,

Thank you so much!
I really appreciate your detailed feedback and examples (your writing is excellent).
Your tips have motivated me to write more!

Thanks again :)